Does Smoking Weed Increase Appetite And Make You Gain Weight?

“The munchies” or that feeling of increased appetite after marijuana use has been clinically documented for hundreds of years. As such, there’s solid science to prove that weed does make you hungry because some of the many compounds packed into it act on the parts of the human brain that mediate hunger.

Clinical studies have found that cannabis increases food enjoyment and interest in food. A 2015 study suggests cannabis triggers uncharacteristic behavior in the brain’s POMC neurons, which are usually associated with decreasing hunger.

The compound associated with triggering hunger is THC or tetracannabidinol, otherwise known as the substance that causes the high in marijuana. Studies show that the munchies occur when THC taps into the part of the brain that controls appetite.

“It specifically stimulates the endocannabinoid system in the brain,” Ginger Hultin, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said. Hultin works with patients in Washington State where marijuana is legal (but only if you’re over 21). There’s also evidence THC stimulates the hormone ghrelin, which triggers hunger.

Endocannabinoids are substances produced by the human body that activate cannabinoid receptors.

THC works into receptors throughout your body. The effect of the munchies is caused specifically by THC on receptors in your brain’s olfactory bulb, which is part of how you smell and taste and sense food, said Elise McDonough, editor of “Bong Appetite: Mastering the Art of Cooking With Weed.”

This means that when THC binds to receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, it makes food smell better and taste more delicious, which is part of getting the munchies. Basically, THC works on your brain to make your body feel hungry even when it’s not.

Marijuana This photograph taken on April 22, 2019, shows a type of cannabis in a bag at Cremers Coffee Shop in The Hague. Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

You can get the munchies from taking an edible or smoking, McDonough noted.

“THC that is found in cannabis will be absorbed into the body whether you’re smoking or eating it,” she said.

McDonough said if you’re trying to avoid the munchies for health reasons, you might want to get high when you’re already full.

“If you eat an edible after a full meal, it will take effect in a less intense way," she explained.

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